Monday, February 21, 2005

Eason Down The Road

We haven't had a whole lot to say about Easongate thus far, because at face value, something seemed a bit hinky. It was rather difficult to believe that the Chief News Executive of CNN would so careless and radioactively stupid as to assert that US troops were deliberately targeting journalists; even more so that he would choose to make the great unveiling of said assertion at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Still more stupid is that when confronted with protest to his assertion, Jordan immediately began backtracking, apparently unable to provide solid evidence for his claims. Too little, too late -- the righty bloggers were all over this like stink on shit, and Jordan was summarily told not to let the door hit his ass on the way out.

At first blush (and maybe even second), you might figure "fair enough". After all, while we have all heard of this or that journalist being accidentally killed in the crossfire, to brazenly assert that this could be a policy seems unlikely. Still, just to say we made double-sure, we should hope that someone in the MSM would take a break from weather wildness and Michael Jackson sightings to investigate the actual safekeeping of their embedded brethren. We have all also heard about the myriad death threats one journalist got when his videotape of a US soldier killing a prostrate, unarmed Iraqi combatant went public. So maybe someone oughta check into it, just so we can call it good.

Well, someone actually checked into it. And while this doesn't prove Eason Jordan's assertion -- particularly given his subsequent waffling and backpedaling -- there is at least enough here to safely say that more care should be taken. Where Jordan leapt far too quickly to the imputation of outright malice, we see more of the usual military stance of indifference to the problem. This is understandable; they're in the middle of an ongoing conflict, and they're going to look out for their platoon first, Geraldo Rivera second. (Indeed, maybe not at all for Geraldo. Who could blame them for that?)

It's difficult to feel any sympathy for Jordan -- he made a remarkably irresponsible claim at a worldwide event, with not a shred of evidence to back it up. But in cursorily glancing at the various bloggers who managed to claim Jordan's scalp, they seemed more interested in resurrecting the Alien and Sedition Act than trying to find facts to refute Jordan's claim. Merely insisting "we would never do something like that" is not a refutation. We never thought we'd be torturing anonymous unpersons at the Gitmo gulag, or sexually humiliating them at Abu Ghraib. But we did, and we are, and we even knowingly promoted the people responsible for such policies.

So after knowing what we know, we all need to be responsible, and perform due diligence, and get to the bottom of these things in a fact-based fashion, rather than jumping to our assumptions. This is a contrast with how the "Jeff Gannon" scandal has unfolded, with many bloggers compiling actual facts, statements, and timelines with which to build a foundation for their conclusions.

[via Altercation.]


LastStand said...

There is a world of difference between not adequately protecting journalist and targeting journalists. Eason lied, his motives are open for debate.

You said the military was indifferent to the problem. Well, its a problem of journalistic making. The pen may be mightier than the sword but it has nothing on a well placed bullet. The problem is that our military, in a combat zone, are being expected to worry about the health of the idiots willfully on the battlefield without weapons.

Craig Heath said...

LastStand - I can't help but say that those "idiots" are "willfully on the battlefield without weapons" in an attempt to let the (theoretically) real power of our country, we the people, keep track of what is being done with our treasure, blood and honor halfway around the world. Only a cowed, dominated populace, "citizens" of an empire, are kept from such knowledge. As those who (supposedly) make the final decisions and (always) pay the price for the choices of our leaders, we need such "idiots" on the battlefield just as much as we need soldiers. To say that it is a problem "of journalistic making" does not counter Heywood's argument that the military is indifferent to it - in fact your comment confirms his point.

That "well placed bullet" has only one power - destruction. The pen you disparage has many powers. Only those who worship brute power prefer gunpowder over ink. Is that what we've become, supplicants to Thanantos?

LastStand said...

I made no attempt to argue that the military wasn't indifferent, I just argued it was ok because they have far more important things to think about.

As to the need of us to know all, fine. You hire a security force for the press, or let them do it. Or let them pay extra for military escorts whose reason for being is protecting those noble men and women reporting the truths we so desperately need.

Luckily the Union survived those 200+ years before we had 24 hour news channels with satelite uplinks and digital cameras.

Craig Heath said...

I have already paid for a security force for the press in a war zone - the US Army. Why are American journalists due any less protection than American soldiers? What's "far more important" for the military to "think about" than protecting life? Isn't that what "defense" is?

I'm not so sure "the union" survived at all - but to the degree it has, we have always had "war correspondents", even if all they had was quill and parchment. No difference except the medium.

They may not be "noble", but I won't fault them for bravery. I can't imagine it is any easier to be in a warzone holding a camera instead of a rifle.

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